As we normally do two or three times a year, we stay in one of our cabins for a weekend getaway. During our most recent getaway, we took advantage of a sunny, albeit a little cold, February Saturday and visited a couple of the sites in Hocking Hills State Park before heading to Vinton County.
In Vinton County, we stopped at Lake Hope State Park for lunch at the brand new lodge. The original lodge sadly burned completely to the ground 7 years ago. After more than a year of construction, the beautiful new lodge was dedicated in January of this year. The dining room in the new lodge is much larger than the old and has a sunny southern exposure and fantastic vista of the lake and surrounding hills through a wall of floor to ceiling windows. A small balcony and lower patio are available for outside dining in warmer months.
The menu at the new lodge is also expanded. The menu offers made from scratch foods using Ohio products with an emphasis on real pit barbeque. Many Ohio made wines and beer are offered as well. The open truss architecture of the main dining room exposes large rough-cut beams constructed from timber cut from nearby Zaleski State Forest. The new lodge offers another much needed dining option for visitors to this part of southeast Ohio. Whether you visit for dinner or an after-hike snack or beverage, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. Here is their web site for menus and more information: www.lakehopedininglodge.com.
After Lake Hope, we went in a search of the remains of two Iron Age relics: the century-and-half-old Vinton Furnace and Belgian coke ovens in the Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest east of McArthur. The map we had only gave us a general location so it took a bit of searching–we love a challenge! After passing the site a couple times–it’s not visible from the road–we finally zeroed in on the most likely location, parked the car and headed off into the forest. With just a few minutes of walking we hit pay dirt.
Only part of the stack of the old furnace remains but surprisingly a good bit of the main structure of the bank of coke ovens remain intact. Coke produced in the ovens was used to fuel the furnace, which was used for smelting iron. This site is quite remote and interesting to visit. Amateur photographers will surely enjoy capturing the curves, symmetry and textures of the coke ovens and the bricks they are constructed of. If you are interested in the full history of this site, follow this link: http://www.oldeforester.com/Vinton.htm.
To visit this site, take US 50 east out of McArthur for 3 mile and turn right onto Stone Quarry Road. In exactly 2 miles you’ll see an old iron bridge on the right, near the road. Pull off and park here. Walk across the old bridge and in approx. 200 yards you’ll intersect a short loop trail marked by round metal trail markers. You can go either right or left; left to see the coke ovens first or right to the furnace first. A word of warning, Stone Quarry Road is a rough gravel road and muddy during wet weather.
Below are a few pics. Have fun!